Tonight was the “Horror Show” WWE has been heavily advertising for weeks now. Extreme Rules has been an annual Pay Per View for more than a decade now and every year, much like all WWE shows, there’s always something great that happens, and of course something awful that happens, but we can always find a silver lining right? As we all know, you can’t please everyone in the world of wrestling.
So let’s dive into the “one night a year WWE goes Extreme.” I say that in quotes because it’s said quite a bit and always gets on my nerves because WWE goes extreme… quite often actually. Anyways, here we go.
Kevin Owens vs Buddy Murphy
What can I really say about this match? Both superstars are fantastic in ring competitors and you really can’t go wrong with either of them. Kevin Owens has been one of the most over stars on the roster since coming up due to his work ethic, mic skills, and ability. Murphy can always put on a hard hitting show and make any match great. His classics with Alestair Black are a few great matches to say the least. So this match, which should’ve been on the main card to be honest, was just fun to watch. Great Pace, great spots, and Kevin Owens hit Murphy with a stunner for the win so the right guy went over even though I was pulling for the big upset with Murphy, but it wouldn’t have really made sense. Kevin Owens needs the momentum more than Murphy, but it’s hard for me to gage what’s next for him.
The New Day vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP TABLES MATCH
This was the perfect way to start the show. All four superstars have great chemistry, a lot of experience between them, and it was a tables match. In the early going Kofi and Big E were working great as a team like always. The New Day have been working together for five years now so that’s unsurprising. They are undoubtedly the best team in WWE today. Cesaro and Shinsuke have been working together a lot lately. Originally it was Nakamura and Sami Zayn and WWE just decided to throw Cesaro into the mix because… well why not, but it worked.
Nakamura and Cesaro’s story going into this was about making a name for themselves because they’ve felt overlooked as a team, which is true. Cesaro and Nakamura are both fantastic athletes that haven’t gotten proper recognition and needed a big win here. Towards the end of the match a table stacked on top of another table placed outside the ring was indicating the finish to this match. Big E was taken out leaving Kofi Kingston helpless which led to Cesaro hitting him with a massive power bomb off the top rope through the tables for the win.
So, your winners and NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. I personally loved this outcome. Both men have needed a title run to boost their careers and it seems like New Day is always carrying the titles. Having new blood always shakes things up. I really hope new teams get opportunities now.
Bayley vs Nikki Cross
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Nikki Cross was always a favorite of mine on NXT. Her psycho gimmick was widely entertaining, but I understand that in the world of wrestling, characters need to develop. Since coming to Smackdown Nikki Cross has formed a great duo with Alexa Bliss. The two have been playing “best friends” and I’ll admit, it’s been entertaining for the most part, but it still feels like Cross is playing sidekick to Bliss. This hurt her image as a serious contender in my eyes. You knew going in Bayley was going to come out still champion. Bayley has held the championship for nearly 300 days, it would’ve been a bad decision to have Bayley drop the belt to Cross in her first singles match for the title. So that’s what I’ll say about Cross. She’s a great worker, but needs to build more of a singles rep before we can take her seriously. Perhaps a team split should happen soon?
Bayley on the other hand has been the best part of WWE lately in my opinion. When Bayley first went he’ll I’ll admit, I hated it. She cut her hair and played a very stereotypical emo type character and it just didn’t work. Since reuniting with Sasha Banks the two have been obnoxious, arrogant, annoying, and it’s all been fantastic. Bayley and Sasha are the only two heels in WWE that I feel are real heels. When their music hits you almost cringe because of how ridiculous they are, but that’s why it just works. Bayley’s promos have been incredible. This has been their best year and both have been putting on their best work.
As far as the match between Cross and Bayley. Nikki showed that she could definitely have a great singles career. She acted like a true challenger that showed urgency when she had the upper hand making sure the champion was staying down and continuing the attack. I didn’t understand why Bayley cared when at one point Cross hid under the ring and Bayley couldn’t find her. Cross appeared on the other side of the ring and baited the champion. What confused me was that the entire time they were outside the ring the ref was counting. Honestly Bayley should’ve jumped in the ring and let the ref get to 10. The champ should never care when the challenger is being foolish.
The match ended when Sasha handed Bayley her “Boss” knuckles she wears to the ring and distracted the referee. Bayley then struck Cross in the abdomen and hit her with her finisher for the win. What I didn’t get is when the exchange between Sasha and Bayley was happening, Alexa Bliss who was standing at ringside did nothing. When Sasha was distracting the referee she just stood there. Bliss played no part in anything that happened in this match other than cheering on Nikki which could’ve been done behind the plexiglass with the rest of the audience, but I can’t complain. Bayley retained like a heel and it was a great match otherwise.
There was a Firefly Funhouse promo from Bray Wyatt in black and white dressed as Dracula which was fantastic. Check that out if you have time.
MVP vs Apollo Crews
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
I don’t know how to review this. There wasn’t even a match. The story we’re being told is that Apollo Crews was “injured” by Bobby Lashley on RAW a few weeks ago. I don’t know the real status of Crews but this isn’t the first time the WWE has tried telling us that he’s “hurt.” Crews was set to compete in the money in the bank ladder match two months ago and was taken out due to injury. It would be nice to know what’s actually going on because Apollo has been on the biggest push of his career right now.
MVP entered with Bobby Lashley. The new United States championship belt he brought to RAW two weeks ago was on a stand outside the ring. MVP proceeded to take a microphone and tell us that Apollo Crews was hurt and couldn’t compete so he automatically forfeits the match and MVP crowned himself The New United States Champion. The RAW commentating team said that Apollo Crews is still the champion so we’re to believe that Crew’s and MVP will have a real match at some point. So this was just MVP cutting an arrogant promo and being a great heel so I can appreciate this for that. I’m just confused as to why there wasn’t a match. I guess we’ll find out soon what’s actually going on.
Seth Rollins vs Rey Mysterio
EYE FOR AN EYE MATCH
This was without question the match everyone was waiting for. When the WWE sanctioned this match stipulation everyone thought it was a joke including myself. I can level with the fact that viewership has probably been down because of the short roster, no live crowd, and repetitive matches each week, but to have a match like this is just so… bazaar. Let me explain. We all know the WWE is staged. It’s entertainment and not meant to be taken seriously. The WWE has always maintained a level of realism in their contests to a certain extent, but this match was the furthest thing from believable. I’ll give the WWE this, it got people talking, people were interested, and I’m sure tons of people subscribed just to see how they were going to do this. It was a great idea to draw people in.
This match was actually really well done. Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio are two of the best in the business and can always put on a quality showing. I really appreciated both men utilizing the Extreme Rules stipulation as that seems to be a hard concept to grasp given past Extreme Rules pay per views. There was kendo sticks being used, chairs, at one point Seth Rollins charged after Mysterio with a screw driver. The match got really insane for a while. I was hooked the entire time and that’s where the downside comes in.
Why did this match have to have such a ridiculous stipulation? The match itself was so good, but everyone had to have that thought sitting in the back of their head that said, “the ending of this is going to ruin this whole match.” If you had that thought in your head you were right. Rey Mysterio at one point nearing the end of the match looked as if he was going to push Seth’s eye into the corner of the ring steps much like Seth did to him a couple months ago. Seth countered with a low blow to Mysterio knocking him down. This allowed Seth to hit Rey with a Curb Stomp finisher which laid Rey out and allowed Seth to once again press Rey’s eye into the corner of the steel step. This looked gruesome on TV, but we knew how the WWE works. A little blood was scene when Seth let go and I’m quite certain a prop eyeball can be seen for a split second in Rey’s hand. The camera pans over to Seth who is actually throwing up and you can hear the referee utter the words “his eye is out” and he rings the bell calling the match and Seth Rollins won. Rey is escorted out by a trainer, his son Dominick, and the referee, and Seth is left with a blank expression on his face wondering what he had done.
This finish ruined a great match. If this match was a “Last Man Standing” or “I Quit” match it would’ve stolen the show, I guarantee it. I’m happy Seth got a win because Seth has looked really weak lately. Seth Rollins’ win/loss record since Wrestlemania has been horrible. What’s the point in spending all of this time each and every week on his “Monday Night Messiah” character if the WWE has him lose all the time? Seth has disciples that are next to no help, and the whole gimmick has been a waste up until this match. Seth actually needed a big win and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next with this character.
Bayley cut a promo after this match and addressed Rey Mysterio. She started the promo sympathetically almost like she was going to wish him a speedy recovery, but transitioned back to her heel character telling Rey, “you’re not “seeing” double, I still have two championships!” This was… awesome. This has seriously been Bayley’s best work in WWE.
Sasha Banks vs Asuka
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Two of the absolute best superstars in WWE today put on a GREAT match. Asuka has been one of the most dominate stars in the WWE today with the longest NXT women’s championship reign in history and multiple Women’s championship wins under her belt. Sasha Banks can say the same. A five times women’s champion as well as first ever women’s tag team champion. This was a great idea and in my honest opinion, it paid off. Sasha had Bayley at ringside and Asuka had Kairi Sane which added to the value of this match.
Sasha looked great throughout this match. She used the ground game to her advantage. This felt like a real contest and Banks did a great job immobilizing Asuka who was getting little to no offense in. Sasha was twisting Asuka’s fingers in certain holds and that just looked painful to watch.
Nearing the end of this match it looked like Asuka was about to win. Bayley threw one half of the Women’s tag team titles into the ring for Bank’s to use as a weapon and even tried to distract the referee. Kairi Sane stopped this and took Bayley out of the picture, Asuka had the Asuka lock in on Sasha who could be seen tapping out but the referee was distracted by the commotion. Asuka let go and Sasha still had a title it looked like she was going to use. As the referee was taking the title away from Sasha, Asuka looked like she was about to hit Sasha with her spitting mist but instead hit the referee. Bayley then took her half of the tag titles and hit Asuka in the back laying her out. Bayley then stripped the ref of his shirt and put it on herself to act as the referee. Sasha pinned Asuka and Bayley made a three count… so there it is, Sasha Banks is your new RAW Women’s Champion.
I loved this. It’s unclear if Sasha is actually the real winner of the Championship, but the idea of her and Bayley parading around with ALL of the women’s gold on the main roster sounds obnoxious, terrible, and I can’t wait for it. This also means there will be an inevitable rematch between Asuka and Sasha Banks, so everything about this was fantastic. I low key hope Sasha is crowned the new champion.
Drew McIntyre vs Dolph Ziggler
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Dolph Ziggler was given the choice to choose the stipulation for this match and we didn’t know what it was going to be until the night the match happened. Not the best idea for advertising, but it kept me interested. Dolph Ziggler chose an “Extreme Rules” match, but the Extreme Rules only apply to him. Dolph could do whatever he wanted to do and Drew had to follow the rules of a traditional one on one match. A great handicap I loved about this was Drew couldn’t even get himself disqualified or counted out without losing the championship so Champions advantage was thrown out the window. This was a great move for the heel Dolph Ziggler.
The weeks leading up to this match were great. Dolph playing mind games by bringing back Heath Slater, a good friend to Drew, and having Heath call Drew out on not being there for him when he was fired. Dolph was on top of everything going into this match. He looked like a prominent threat to Drew. There was just one problem… it’s Dolph Ziggler.
Dolph Ziggler has been with WWE for more than a decade and is one of the best athletes the WWE has. His ability to put on a quality match is outstanding and he sells moves better than anyone in the history of the business. Ziggler is a huge favorite amongst fans so why not believe he could beat Drew for the WWE championship? Well, it’s because he’s had such a rocky road with WWE management according to multiple sources, but even still, Dolph isn’t a believable World Champion. Dolph has had World title opportunities before and has even carried the World Heavyweight Championship, but it was short lived. Ziggler is a superstar WWE can count on to put on a quality show, but doesn’t have the star power or the size to be a main event player. So we knew going into this match that he was going to lose.
This match was great all things considered. Drew struggled fighting the urge to hit Ziggler with a weapon, but couldn’t due to the risk of dropping the title. This match made Drew look like a tough and deserving champion. Drew absorbed a load of punishment from Ziggler for most of this match and had a couple of close calls. When Ziggler got sloppy and went for his Superkick finisher, Drew countered with a Claymore kick for the win.
Overall I’d say this match was well done and well put together. Drew looked great as a fighting champion, Ziggler sold great as a heel. The whole thing just worked. I’m uncertain what’s next for Drew, but after Adam Cole dropped his NXT Championship to Keith Lee after a lengthy run… I feel it’s time for Adam Cole to head to RAW and take on Drew for the WWE Championship. Wishful thinking, but anything can happen.
Bray Wyatt vs Braun Strowman
Swamp Fight Match
I’m going to be honest, I’m not the biggest Braun Strowman fan. That being said I can appreciate his work going into this. Braun has looked more dominate than ever since becoming Universal Champion at WrestleMania and his promos going into this match have been the best he’s ever done in my opinion. Bray Wyatt on the other hand. There isn’t a lot of wrong he can do. Bray has been one of the most over superstars in WWE since his debut. He’s had a lot of ups and downs in his career due to poor booking, but Bray has always been a fan favorite and his Fiend character has arguably been the best work he’s done in WWE.
So Braun returned to the “Wyatt Family Swamp” for this match. I wouldn’t really call it a match. This was another cinematic fight WWE has been doing lately because there isn’t an audience. I appreciate the WWE trying to stay creative to make up for not having a crowd. These cinematic fights are actually pretty good. The Boneyard Match at WrestleMania was fantastic, The Money in the Bank ladder match on the roof was widely entertaining, and this kept me very interested.
Braun arrived to the swamp in his car only to see the “Eater of Worlds” Bray Wyatt in a rocking chair in the middle of the road just sitting there with a smile on his face. The screen went dark and Bray suddenly disappeared. Braun proceeded into the swamp and was jumped by masked man who I assume were Bray’s followers. This is where the match took a dark turn. At one point Braun set a man on fire and laughed about it… I’m not even kidding. Before that Braun saw himself in his black sheep mask. Yes, Braun saw himself standing in front of him and then set a man on fire. Wrap your head around that. Bray got a few cheap shots in while Braun’s back was turned, but the whole time I was trying to figure out… how do you win this? The rules of these matches are always so unclear. You basically just have to sit back and watch a movie which is nice from time to time, but who wins?
Braun then brought Bray to the dock of the swamp body slammed him into a boat which then drove away… on its own. Braun thought this was the end, but then saw the boat drive back towards him. Braun checked the boat and found nothing, Bray was gone. Bray then reached from the water, grabbed Braun, and pulled him in. After a brief moment, The Fiend emerged from the water. This was the end of the match… I’m assuming this means Bray Wyatt wins? Again, it’s hard to decide a winner in these cinematic matches, but damn was I entertained.
This was shot like a high budget horror film and I really enjoyed it. Now, it wasn’t nearly as good as The Boneyard match between AJ Styles and The Undertaker at WrestleMania, but it was really well done. I hope the WWE continues with these. I’m sure they will and I know I’m in the minority of people that actually enjoy these but again, you can’t please everyone in the world of wrestling.
So there you have it. My review of Extreme Rules. Personally, this Pay Per View Event was better than both Money in the Bank and Backlash. There’s so much direction the WWE can go with upcoming storylines given these outcomes. I’m looking forward to what’s next.